By the time period of Star Wars: A New Hope, hyperspace beacons were no longer in service. However, we know for certain that less than 300 years before Star Wars: The Old Republic, hyperspace beacons were still in use. Since technology appears to advance quite slowly, I can only assume that they are still used in some capacity during SWTOR.
As evident by the galaxy map that BioWare launched this past Friday, the worlds of this time period are strongly divided into territories. The planets of the movies appeared to be united under one banner (although that's not entirely accurate). What I'd like to do today is give you a little tour of the galaxy, comparing this map to something you may be a bit more familiar with: the Star Wars movies. So strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
Today, I am going to concentrate on the worlds of The Old Republic, but if you are looking for for an incredible and exhaustive look at the worlds that make up the Star Wars galaxy, check out The Essential Atlas by David Wallace and Jason Fry. That book is a part of the third-generation Essentials Guides and is absolutely the most complete atlas I've ever seen produced for the lore. Honestly, if you see one of the other atlases for sale, don't buy it. Those books are grossly incomplete compared to the latest one.
Every guide to the planets of Star Wars needs to start with the Core Worlds, specifically Coruscant. Although Coruscant does not house the oldest-known galactic civilization, the seeds of the Republic sprouted here. In fact, from the time the Republic began to the periods in latest novel and comic book, the seat of the most powerful galactic nation was on Coruscant. Of course, anyone who has seen the Star Wars movies knows that the Republic was not always the most powerful galactic nation at that time. But just like Boardwalk in Monopoly, Coruscant is the most sought-after planet in the galaxy. During the time of TOR, it was particularly puzzling to members of the Empire, like Darth Malgus, when the Sith Empire withdrew from Coruscant after the planet was sacked at the end of the Great War. Perhaps the Emperor knew, like many generals know, that taking a planet is not the same as maintaining control. Perhaps they just attacked as a show of power so that the Republic would be more likely to give in to treaty agreement.
If you were to ask a freighter pilot which is the most important planet in the Core, most likely he would not reply with Coruscant. The crux of his business would be on another planet that centers on trade: Corellia. In the time of The Old Republic, this planet is a major trading force for the Republic, just as it is during the time of the movies. The greatest pilots hail from Corellia. Everyone's favorite smuggler, Han Solo, was born and raised on this world. The planet also creates some of the fastest ships in the galaxy: The Millennium Falcon, The Ebon Hawk, and the Smuggler ship, the XS Light Freighter.
On the galaxy map of SWTOR, Ord Mantell is included in the Core Worlds. This makes sense for game purposes, but in lore, Ord Mantell is actually a part of the Mid Rim, which includes worlds like Kashyyyk, the Wookiee world; Bothawui, the Bothan planet; and Naboo, the home of the Gungans.
As we travel outward from the center of the galaxy, the Republic maintains less and less influence over certain planets, like the infamous desert world of Tatooine. During the time of the prequel movies, Tatooine was controlled by the Hutt Cartel -- specifically, Jabba the Hutt. However, during the classic Star Wars movies, the Empire gained control (in name, at least) by setting up a garrison in the city of Bestine. During The Old Republic era, who knows what's going on? According to reports, the Czerka Corporation controls the majority of settlements, which are used to mine minerals and support the super-secret weapons the corporation creates.
Some of our favorite planets can also be found in the Outer Rim. Remember the Battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back? That frozen planet is located in the Outer Rim. Lando Calrissian's Cloud City is on the Outer Rim planet of Bespin. In fact, the entirety of The Empire Strikes Back takes place somewhere in the Outer Rim. This area of the galaxy was supposed to be nearly untouchable by the Galactic Empire. Similarly, the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic during the time of SWTOR have little to no presence on Hoth, Belsavis, and Tatooine -- the Outer Rim worlds visitable in game.
The planets of Star Wars color the universe and have their own distinctive personalities. I can spend hours staring at the map of the Star Wars universe. If you are the same, definitely buy the Essential Atlas that I mentioned earlier and tune into the Hyperspace Beacon next week. Barring any huge announcement, I will cover the Imperial and Hutt worlds. If you have any specific question about those regions or the regions we covered today, I will be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally here, and the Force is with Massively! We've prepared a Hutt-sized feast of class introductions, gameplay guides, lore roundups, and hands-on previews to help you navigate the launch period and beyond. And don't forget our weekly SWTOR column, the Hyperspace Beacon!